Outstanding school is cooking up a storm in its kitchens

An outstanding St Leonards school has been welcoming guests to show off its brand new catering facilities and allow its students to demonstrate their hospitality skills.

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When education watchdogs OFSTED visited New Horizons they rated the school as ‘oustanding’ the top award that OFSTED can give a school. Winning that accolade opened up a number of opportunities for the school to search out new sources of funding as a number of organisations specialise in making grants to outstanding schools that are demonstrating good progress by students.

Gill Dearman, head of food at the school, was quick to recognise the potential. She put together a plan to modernise the school’s kitchens and then created a bid and managed to secure a grant of £60,000 from the Wolford Foundation which funded renovation and expansion of the teaching kitchens at both of New Horizons’ sites.

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On top of that Mrs Dearman secured a further £6,000 from the Savoy Trust that has allowed the renovated kitchens to be kitted out with new equipment.

With work on the new kitchens now virtually complete Mrs Dearman decided it was time not just to show off the new facilities but to show off the skill levels of her students. It means that over the last two weeks the school has been welcoming up to eight guests each day who have been able to sample a range of foods made by the students from year seven upwards who are all currently working towards their GCSE in hospitality.

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Harley Crossan, Ben Hayes, Katie Oglethorpe, Jodie Day and Bailey Nelson with some of their guests. Not in the picture is Cheyenne Renton

There have been different themes on different days; the children have prepared Indian, Chinese and Greek cuisine and also laid on an afternoon tea themed event that included delicious delights like mini quiche and mini pasties, walnut and lemon drizzle cakes, scones, choux buns, swiss roll and homemade biscuits.

Mrs Dearman said inviting guests in to the school to try the food prepared by the student’s also allowed the youngsters to gain valuable experience in learning about and practising their waiting and serving skills.

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The delicious chocolate and raspberry cake that was served up to guests who enjoyed the afternoon tea.

The students had two and a half hours to prepare for their guests’ arrival and Mrs Dearman says that put them under pressure to have everything ready, something they were not all used to.

The renovations at the schools Beauchamp Road and Tilebarn Road sites have doubled the size of the kitchens, they can now be used to teach up to 12 children rather than the six that was possible before. That’s important says Mrs Dearman as the school’s ‘outstanding’ OFSTED report means more parents want their children to go there.

Those involved in the in the project included Harley Crossan, Ben Hayes, Katie Oglethorpe, Jodie Day, Bailey Nelson and Cheyenne Renton.

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